You are an endurance athlete, right? Eat Turmeric!
As an endurance athlete, you may wonder if there is something other than anti-inflammatory medicines, ice packs, massages, etc. that can help you out with delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). As the famous quote, "Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food," says, you can often find relief in eating the right foods. Turmeric spice is a real go-to for so many reasons, especially for endurance athletes.
So, what is turmeric?
Turmeric is a spice acquired from plants belonging to the Ginger family. This yellow powder comes from rhizome, the stem of the plant that grows underground.
Also known as "Indian saffron", turmeric is widely used in Indian cuisine and Ayurvedic medicine due to its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and anticancer properties.
It's a wonder spice of a thousand virtues and benefits for your health. From stronger immunity to improved muscle recovery, benefits of turmeric are quite a lot.
Most of turmeric's medicinal properties depend on curcumin, which is its key active ingredient. Curcumin is a polyphenol that seems to have multiple beneficial health properties, but most of them are due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects accompanied by low toxicity.
Numerous scientific studies displayed positive effects of turmeric's active ingredient, curcumin, reduced inflammation, muscle damage and faster recovery, exercise-induced fatigue, and enhanced muscle performance. Another intriguing effect was a superior psychological response during training.
Many think that a build-up of lactic acid is the cause of the delayed onset muscle soreness, but it has nothing to do with it. Mechanical and metabolic stress mechanisms are responsible for DOMS. Mechanical, as micro-tears in muscle fibers, cause inflammation, and metabolic as the overproduction of free radicals causes oxidative damage to muscles. This explains why curcumin, with its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, can be a great allay against DOMS.
Like other potent antioxidants, curcumin exerts its effects in the cell by suppressing free radicals and chain reactions responsible for triggering the inflammation processes. Inflammation is also responsible for decreased muscle strength, other than pain, especially after a heavy workout, improved inflammation control can bring a faster recovery.
Researchers have found that curcumin intake increases muscle glycogen content, which is an important energy source for muscles, and therefore it can improve your exercise performance, grip strength, endurance included.
A study found that even in moderately trained men and women who consumed up to 200 mg of curcumin for eight weeks, delayed onset of muscle soreness and muscle strength after a heavy workout was improved. Blood levels of creatine kinase, an indirect marker of muscle damage, were much lower in the curcumin-treated group. The placebo group showed no such improvement.
Therefore, many health benefits of turmeric seem to be connected to the high concentration of potent antioxidants that characterize this spice, capable of counteracting free radicals and the consequent oxidative stress improving exercise performance and alleviating muscle fatigue.
At trainingmeals.org, we create well-balanced meals, combining the right foods so you can get the most out of your diet. For example, you can consume turmeric each day in large amounts without any improvements. How is that possible? We know all the tricks and the right combinations, and when it comes to curcumin intake without enhancing agents, there will be very few positive effects due to its poor absorption. The best enhancing agent is black pepper (piperine), as it raises turmeric's bioavailability by 2000%.
Dosage and side effects
The recommended daily dose of ground turmeric is from 1 to 3 g.
If you are suffering from any kind of liver disease, gallstones, or taking anticoagulants and insulin, you should avoid consuming turmeric spice. In some people, this spice can cause an upset stomach and worsen GERD symptoms. In case you suffer from these conditions, consult your doctor before taking it. To avoid the potential long-term side effects of taking too much turmeric, do not take more than the recommended daily dose.
Eight Weeks of a High Dose of Curcumin Supplementation May Attenuate Performance Decrements Following Muscle-Damaging Exercise
Curcumin effects on inflammation and performance recovery following eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage
Effects of turmeric extract supplementation on inflammation and muscle damage after a half-marathon race: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial
Effect of Curcumin Supplementation on Physiological Fatigue and Physical Performance in Mice
Curcumin and Piperine Supplementation and Recovery Following Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage: A Randomized Controlled Trial